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Steve Brochu of MilkCrate in Edmonton has created a rainbow sourdough bread in honour of Pride Week as well as raising funds and awareness for Camp Fyrefly.Megan Albu/The Globe and Mail

With Edmonton Pride celebrating its 40th anniversary June 24 and 25, and with the Pride season kicking off across the province, many independent food and drink businesses are creating awareness for community causes and raising funds for LGBTQ initiatives.

French restaurant Chartier, located in Beaumont southeast of Edmonton, has a multicoloured rainbow bread fit for RuPaul himself, while deVine Wines and Spirits recently released its annual Pride at home packages, with proceeds donated to MacEwan University’s Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity. The Sea Change Brewing Company’s Prairie Fairy beer is back for its fourth year, raising money for The Fruit Loop Society of Alberta and the edible and drinkable (and feel-good) list goes on and on.

Edmonton’s Steve Brochu is the owner of MilkCrate. His downtown cafe is selling a uniquely coloured bread loaf in support of Camp fYrefly and is available to purchase on Wednesdays and Fridays or by special order via email. Proceeds from the sale of MilkCrate Pride T-shirts also go toward the camp. Mr. Brochu’s LGBTQ team members were part of the Pride decisions.

“It seems like hospitality workplaces are becoming safer and more inclusive,” Mr. Brochu says. “I do feel like we are seeing a rainbow of labour that is changing our industry for the better.”

It’s the cafe’s third year supporting LGBTQ causes, and although Mr. Brochu says the company’s financial impact is not large-scale, it’s important.

“We are a small café trying to do what we can to offer some support to a cause we like. I wanted MilkCrate to support a cause that I think will make a difference in the future of not only the LGBTQ community, but society as a whole,” Mr. Brochu says. “If we can do this someone much larger could, too … and make an even bigger impact.”

Lindsay Peace is the impassioned founder of Skipping Stone Foundation, an organization that provides resources to trans and gender-diverse youth across the province. Arc’teryx is working with Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co. to offer a feature beer in support of the foundation.

Ms. Peace says she has seen many small businesses step up for LGBTQ community causes.

“I think it is very important that any company participating in Pride – marketing with it, and profiting from it – gives back to the community and in general, the restaurant community in Calgary has been amazing. I continue to be floored by the number of establishments that celebrate the season while donating to queer organizations.”

She also emphasizes that awareness is often just as valuable, if not moreso, than funds raised.

“While the financial support can obviously be such a blessing, I think the biggest gift for any charity is visibility. This, coupled with the dialogue that can be created with different fundraising initiatives is how change is made,” she explains. “So many people just struggle to be seen as their true selves, visibility is truly priceless.”

Pride month in June is the start of a season that continues, more or less, until mid-September, with Calgary’s Pride week in late August and other communities with their own celebrations throughout the summer.

Celebrated Calgary coffee roaster and cafe chain Rosso Coffee Roasters has long been active during Pride, although its support extends far beyond its Pride flag and trans-flag-coloured coffee sleeves. It also holds events such as LGBTQ resource fairs and mixers in addition to raising funds for charities such as Ms. Peace’s along with Calgary Queer Arts Society, CCASA, Treaty 7 Dyke and Trans March, and the Centre for Sexuality.

Come Pride parade day in Calgary (Sept. 4), you can also find Rosso offering free drip coffee at its downtown location on Stephen Avenue.

“It is important for us to have a real impact and not be bandwagon jumpers each year during Pride season,” says Rosso’s managing partner, Jessie Attrell. “We continue to work with organizations to provide them with support through space donation and fundraising throughout the year.”

In August, the company will be launching a collaboration roast with local writer and influencer Ryan Massel (aka @immrfabulous) as part of his annual LOVED Collection of products that represent different aspects of the LGBTQ community. The limited-edition roast aims to shine a light on same-sex marriage and the fact that it is still not legal in more than 60 countries.

“This blend will be called the ‘Perfect Pair’ and contains coffees from Brazil and Colombia. Both are countries that support same-sex marriage,” Ms. Attrell said. “We are also using [local artist] Blake McLeod to design the label for the bag and all proceeds will be donated to an organization in the community.”

Calgarians can expect special Rosso roast along with other Pride-themed custom creations from the LOVED Collection and other supportive businesses such as Wild Tea Kombucha and Broken Spirits Distillery to be released in early August.

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